Trader Joe’s TRADITIONAL CARNITAS Mexican Style Oven Roasted Pork


Trader Joe’s sells packages of “CARNITAS” (Mexican style oven roasted pork). Frankly in the package it may not look look very appealing but trust me, this is not just good, TJ’s Carnitas are delicious. Tender, slow roasted, melt in your mouth, delicious porky goodness. Carnitas (“little meats) are a traditional Mexican preparation & cooking method with the pork typically cooked in enormous copper pots by special masters, slowly stirring it for hour with long handle wooden paddles. Cooking carnitas is an art. You can’t even really make carnitas at home. When done the pork is so tender and juicy it is almost falling apart. Typically the cooked carnitas meat is chopped up for tacos or other dishes. “Trader José’s” version of carnitas can be used to make excellent tacos. Now even though it’s fully cooked, it will be far tastier if you brown it and I strongly recommend you do. Its worth the little extra effort and your tacos will be far tastier. Please do not microwave it – despite the fact they say you can on the package. Just toss it in a pan. I cut up the big piece of meat into a few pieces and cooked it on low-med heat for about 10-20 minutes turning the pieces every 5 minutes or all the side were golden brown and delicious. Some interior fat in the meat will melt doing this too. The carnitas may start to fall apart as you turn it, that’s fine. When its all done, take out the meat, rest it a minute or two and then either chop it up into bite size piece or what I like to do: shred it up using two forks. You can use the carnitas as a filling for tacos or quesadillas with your desired accompaniments. Personally I like traditional Corn Tortillas but use any tortilla you like. Now besides using this for tacos, this tasty roasted pork can be used for other things too of course. So for example this pork is great used for Chinese cooking. I make fried rice using this pork chopped into bite size pieces instead of Cha Siu and it’s super yummy. How about Ramen? Sure. Cut into slices, grill them a bit and use these as the Ramen topping like the traditional slices of Cha Siu. Italian? Chop up the meat for a super easy tasty meat sauce, which you add to tomato or marinara sauce – voila, an instant “Ragu” or meat sauce for pasta or gnocchi. You can even just serve this delicious pork on its own with some lime or salsa or as a topping for a salad. Or make a Cuban Sandwich with this, ham and some Swiss! Trust me, you will find this TJ Carnitas useful to use for many things. The 12 oz. package of TRADITIONAL CARNITAS goes for $6. I would buy this again

BTW – TJ’s PINEAPPLE SALSA goes very well with this pork carnitas for tacos etc.

Trader Joe’s Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry “JAPCHAE”


Trader Joe’s frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetables stir fry

(update, march 2021: i haven’t been able to find this for some time. hoping its just a supply chain issue and not disco’d. Update2, may 2021: finally back! i just saw these again!

I had read about this new Trader Joe’s Korean frozen dish on offer. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I had to wait for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our TJ’s here and got one to try. I was pretty impressed. It is indeed quite good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it her seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” – it tastes authentically Korean. Lable does say it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato. These are called glass or cellophane noodles as that is what they resemble. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. If you add things, it can become a dinner or main dish. We ate this with our dinner of potsticker dumplings. These two were a great combo together! We enjoyed the dumplings with this side dish of noodles with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. Drizzle some more toasted sesame oil on just before serving if you have it. This dish is not spicy. Add something if you want it spicy. One can “beef up” the dish just by adding additional things: protein, more veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Add in to the noodles (or top when serving): cooked ground beef or ground turkey or pork, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you. You can add more vegetables, too! Mushrooms, spinach, green beans…. Add stuff to this and you will have a delicious easy dinner for two, for way less than takeout. We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: it does have a pretty high SODIUM CONTENT. If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

Trader Joe’s ATLANTIC SALMON FILLETS (frozen)


(Product of Norway, Farm Raised)

Each 1 lb package contains 4 x 4 oz. portions of boneless Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon, perfectly flash frozen. So first things first, DEFROSTING: The best method to defrost anything is always an overnight thaw in the fridge. In a pinch however you could do the quick thaw method written on the package (bagged, in cold water 30 minutes) however try to think ahead if you can for the best texture . Obviously if you are not using it all, just seal the package back up for the freezer with the nice built- in air lock of the package being sure to squeeze out excess air.

COOKING : I tried the quick brine technique of giving the defrosted salmon fillets a 30 minute soak in brine and I liked the results (see link below for full info at The Kitchn)

https://www.thekitchn.com/best-salmon-cooking-method-skills-showdown-23004976

After drying off the salmon, I gave it seasoning on both sides with a nice sprinkle of AJIKA which will give great color as well as flavor (in my case as it was brined, I added no more salt). I cooked the fillets using the pan fry method in a cast iron pan (or use a non stick pan) in a mix of oil and butter for about 5 minutes on the skin side first till the skin looked crispy. Flipped them, then cooked about 2 minutes on the second side which needs less time than the first. Personally I hate overcooked fish. Don’t overcook it. Cook fish just till it’s no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork. You can always put it back for 30 seconds if it needs it.

If you want to serve with a sauce, TJ’s tzaziki sauce would be very good with this salmon. Or Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice, or tartar sauce. Even simple lemon juice and butter is great. Fresh dill is wonderful with salmon. This time I plated the salmon up with some lemon butter, and served it with a side of TJ’s Harvest Grain Blend (shown) which is perfect with this. The salmon was tasty, if a bit mild of course as this is farmed. Wild salmon, which I love is usually about double the price of this. Trader Joe’s sells this for $8.99 for a 1 lb package (a bit little over $2 a portion). For the price I think this salmon is very tasty and a good value. I find Trader Joe’s version, superior to Costco’s version. So giving this a thumb’s up for value and quality. INGREDIENTS: Atlantic Salmon (no added salt) Protein = 23 grams! EAT FISH

(note: price has increased)

TJ’s Sweet Pull Apart ALOHA ROLLS (Sliders!)


Trader Joe’s Sweet Pull Apart Aloha Rolls

I think we can safely assume Trader Joe’s are calling these “Aloha Rolls” to reference KING’S HAWAIIAN famous sweet breads.

In any case, TJ’s pull apaprt “Aloha Rolls” are really good. Small but pudgy high, slightly sweet and really soft bread dinner rolls. My-oh-my are they yummy, we kept eating one more when we were tasting them. The rolls are small but very pudgy tall and are terrific just with butter or for making little sandwiches. Actually I was looking for the mini hamburger buns I love… which I realized I haven’t seen them for some time, and I am now assuming TJs Disco’d them (argh!) When I saw these little Aloha Rolls I wondered why couldn’t these rolls work for making mini hamburgers slider’s….kind of my own version of White Castle (which I don’t eat actually). The answer is Yes they can. Check out my picture of the little mini burgers aka “Gourmet White Castle” slider’s. Granted there looks to be too much bread though it is so soft and it squishes right down and didn’t seem to bread-y in relation to the meat. These mini hamburgers were so delicious we scarfed them down. Next time though I thought I should maybe trim a little bit of bread off the top of the buns. I used under 2 oz of ground beef for each little mini burger with a lot of chopped onions sauteed at the same time and a little square of TJ’s sliced cheddar cheese melted over the tops. OMG. We loved them. They were so yummy, we ate three little sliders each!

Try making these sliders with these rolls, or just make some little sandwiches with them. Yes they will improve even more with a little warm up in the oven or toaster oven, as it says on the package. Any cute little sandwiches made with these rolls will be great, so let your imagination run wild. I am really thinking smoked salmon, cream cheese and arugula would be very good.

$2.99 a bag (12 oz / 12 rolls)

MINI SLIDERS NO-RECIPE RECIPE: I weighed out the ground beef into little balls and made each about 1.5-2 oz each. I sauteed a whole chopped onion in a cast iron pan for 5 minutes in olive oil until translucent. I spread them around the pan and put the burgers on top. Turned up the heat to high, cooked one side then turned them after 3 minutes and topped with little squares of sliced cheddar. Heated the buns meanwhile in the oven. If you want less bread you can try to slice off a bit of the top of the bun. Serve immediately with your favorite sides. We served these with mashed potatoes and green peas. Naturally this mini burger thing would work using something other than ground beef such as ground turkey, chicken, meatless impossible burgers or even Soy Chorizo I would guess….

I bet you they will be a big hit as they were for us.

Trader Joe’s Sweet Pull Apart Aloha Rolls

Here’s what the TJ website says:

“Light, fluffy, and perfect for sopping up all the leftover gravy goodness on your Thanksgiving plate, we love Trader Joe’s Sweet Pull Apart Aloha Rolls because they’re both tasty and time-saving. They come loosely attached to one another in a convenient, three-by-four-roll rectangle, which can be pulled apart (hence the name) and eaten as-is, or given a quick warm-up in the oven just before serving. Their sweet, simple flavor profile and soft, easy-going texture pair brilliantly with a touch of Cranberry Sauce or a drag through a puddle of savory Turkey Flavored Gravy. And aside from their usefulness at the holiday dinner, proper, they also make a great base for sandwiches. Leftover turkey sliders anyone? We’re selling each 12-ounce bag of 12 Sweet Pull Apart Aloha Rolls for $2.99, every day. Look for them on our bread racks.”

TJ’s Indian Fare (pouch) Yellow TADKA DAL


Trader Joe’s INDIAN FARE YELLOW TADKA DAL is “A savory, creamy and spicy blend of lentils and spices” (PRODUCT OF INDIA)

Trader Joe’s has quite a bit of Indian foods on offer, some in the frozen foods section as well as some non-frozen ones too, such as this line of Indian dishes which comes in pouches. Some of these I’ve tried are really good, especially this one, TADKA DAL.

We ate this TADKA DAL last night and I have to say I found it surprisingly tasty, I’m mean as in “This tastes like it came from an Indian restaurant” level good. This Tadka Dal was very flavorful and nicely spiced with a wee bit of heat going on. I put it in a pan on top of the stove (they suggest heating in hot water). If you serve this dal with a few other things, you have a nice easy dinner… We had this with another dish plus cooked Basmati rice, some Garlic Naan, Mango Chutney and a salad. (Sidenote: I saw TJ’s has a new Indian condiment, “Garlic Achar” which I want to try)

If you add at least one other dish to the Dal such as TJ’s CHANNA MASALA you can have an easy and quite tasty pretty authentic Indian dinner. These TJ’s “Indian Fare” products come in shelf stable pouches and are not a bad deal at about $2 each (for 10 oz) I find these pouches of Indian items great things to have in our pantry for whenever we’re in the mood for Indian food, or come home and don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to order out either. These plus frozen Naan make fast super easy meals. I have not tried all of these Indian Fare pouches but there are a few varieties on offer. This Tadka Dal one is quite good and worth your trying. By the way, in case you want to know what “Tadka” refers to: Tadka translates as “tempering.” It is a method widely used in Indian cuisine, in which whole or ground spices are heated in hot oil or ghee and the mixture is added to a dish.

TADKA DAL: ingredients include yellow split peas, butter, oil, tomato, chili pepper, salt, cumin, onion, curry leaves, yest, mustard see, tumeric…. The Sodium level listed is a bit high, so compensate for that with other dishes (such as using less salt to make your rice)

VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE